Holiday season is the time to celebrate and jump around with joy! It is also the time to stop, look back and retrospect. Look back so that you can look forward and march ahead from the rest of the ecommerce pack. Retrospect so that you can get profits with retrospective effect. Especially since holiday seasons are the most profitable times for online businesses. A Deloitte research says that more than 44% of eCommerce shoppers prefer the holiday sales to buy the big-ticket items. For example, in the five day time period from Thanksgiving, through Black Friday to Cyber Monday, American consumers spent $ 19.62 billion online. This is $2.6 billion and 15% more than what they spent the year before. So an effective eCommerce pre-holiday audit can help understand challenges, define goals, adopt marketing strategies and target ad campaigns to meet the sudden rise of customer demands. This will be the key for sales to hit the peak and hence will springboard the revenues.

    1. Benchmarking Helps Attain “Bulls Eye” Goals

Retrieve the analytics from last year’s holiday season as it can help understand your important purchase metrics and key traffic drivers. Example: Flipkart taps analytics to deliver marketing strategies with optimized spends. Metrics like “Add to Cart” conversion rates are a wonderful place to begin with, followed by conversion rates, average order size and total sales. Such KPIs can help benchmark standards to better understand baselines and predict projections, which forms a steady foundation in building a successful marketing strategy to attain sales targets. Effective analytic tools like Google Analytics and Omniture drive value to your pre-holiday audit.

     2. Jump onto the bandwagon of Site Optimizations

With an effective analytics audit, look at strategizing a marketing plan with a focus on scaling peaks higher than the previous year. As orders fly in by the millions, it is important to understand customer

behavior. Focus on the purchase path to understand reasons for abandonment of shopping cart. Strategy is an important step of the audit process as it helps avoid last minute rushes and challenges.

The following pointers improve site performance and drive the eCommerce strategy.

 

A. ‘Free Shipping’ lets Shopping Spree Set Sail   /  Free Shipping Makes Customer Jump Onboard/Free Shipping Equals To Customer Onboarded!

Research by Deloitte says that 70% of ecommerce holiday shoppers say they shop online because of free shipping. For example, Mircosoft offers free shipping to European customers and is one of the best seller of the software industry. Hence, eCommerce audits should ease the shipping options like free and fast shipping which is a sure shot way of your customer going on a shopping frenzy with your brand.

B. Content is King

And SEO is the crown prince. Hence, make sure that each keyword is natural yet varied, logical, unique and relevant to the topic. Repurpose at the slightest sign of keyword stuffing as Google notches up its Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird updates during the holiday season. Also give each page a clear purpose of avoiding similar pages competing with each other.

Audit and strategize your execute SEO and content strategies well in advance of the holiday season. For example, Google trends show that people started searching for “Christmas Gift Ideas” as early as September.

Hence, change the On-page SEO strategy early on to align with the popular trend, so that the website stands out in the SERP rankings.

  • Product Page Content and its Temporary Automation

The increase of products in the holiday inventory, demands time consuming product page copies. Create unique content without copying them from the product website and ensure they lead to relevant landing pages and not deviate from the search page results and search results.

Automation of the whole process just for the holiday season would be a penny for your thoughts. Especially since there are a lot of pages to be uploaded with repetitive processes involved.

  • Terms and Conditions, Return Policies and FAQs

When products and webpages increase, obviously these will also face drastic changes, besides new clauses. Rewriting them during the audit will enable relevant organic content, build trust and can also help rank longtail keywords and user questions. They will also educate the customer besides reducing the expense of customer service.

  • Look at the pages from which searches are coming from– Try learning from them, obviously they are doing something right.

 

C. User Experience

  • Responsive Web Design

More than half of customers are mobile users, hence redesign webpages with high clicks to be fully responsive. Also design the new webpages suited for the holiday campaign, to be fully responsive.

  • Microcopy – A Macrocosm of possibilities

Research has shown that microcopy can improve SEO and that it has a huge impact on conversions. Paying attention to detail does make a difference here. When new webpages are added, it’s a wonderful time to add new and engaging microcopies. Changing existing microcopies will also help the cause. Hire a freelance microcopy writer – catch them fast! They are in high demand during the holiday season.  

 

D. Make Page Speed Faster Than Lightning / Make Page Speeds Quicker Than Usain Bolt

A Google report states that 53% of people abandon a page after a delayed load time of just 3 seconds. Holiday season will lead to thousands of transactions, heavy competition and a buying frenzy of customers and hence page speed will directly affect the top line. So increase the page speed by temporarily renting more server bandwidth and optimizing database. Also use CDN, minify HTML CSS and Javascript, optimize images, avoid self-hosted videos and minimize 3rd party scripts.

 

E. Create a ‘Holiday Landing’ Page Strategy

  •  Landing Page Content

“The difference between Content and Content Marketing is the destination”, said Micheal Brenner, a popular marketing strategist. Festival based Content Marketing as a Holiday Season destination is a way forward for a pleasant customer journey. Alibaba is an excellent example of effective content strategies during Christmas holidays. Their Black Friday sale alone has made them $3 billion, repositioning them from an eCommerce brand to an eCommerce economy. So this is the time to audit and revamp the content tailored towards the holiday season.

  • Landing Page ‘Festival’ Theme

Come Holiday Season and the Festivities Can Simply Be Felt In The Air. If the customer opens his eyes to the festive theme of the website, his neighborhood mall comes right in front of his eyes and he starts shopping. It can be achieved by adding themes when customer is redirected through the landing page. Estee Lauder has brought this about in an ‘Early Christmas’ theme to lure their British audience which upward spiraled their annual revenues to a whopping $12 billion. This is not just a wonderful marketing strategy but also a way to blend with current trends and to blend with customer’s lives.

  • How to go about it

Audit the critical landing pages well in advance. Restructure the landing page URL to align with the new SEO strategy and ad campaigns. Add the new ones also well in advance. There are two reasons for it.

  1. It allows ample time for testing and validation since there is going to be n number of new pages when there will be no time to delegate resources for it.
  2. To enable organized marketing strategies to drive traffic to the landing pages.

 

F. Search Log Audit

View what your customers are searching for and their respective results. Which commonly searched items yield no result and what are the repeated alternate spellings, misspellings and synonyms? Is there a pattern in the errors? Search with the 50 most searched items, which were searched within a span of six months. Use these to drive an effective marketing strategy.

  •  Develop and Launch the Holiday Campaign

Tips, tricks, and best practices to take your marketing to the next level – Develop Holiday Campaigns

The audit drives the wisdom of tips, tricks and best practices of the previous year; popular and trending search results and competitor analysis. Based on all these KPIs, take marketing to the next level by developing disruptive holiday campaigns.

Your marketing plan should include paid search plans, sales calendars, promotional calendars, paid media plans, email marketing plans, and a paid or owned social plan.

This calls for a complete restructuring of many of the web pages in terms of content, SEO and User Experience besides the addition of new webpages. Landing pages need to be realigned, besides increasing google shopping feeds.

For example, popular selling products need to be efficiently marketed and sold which calls for a quick addition of webpages having SEO friendly content, faster load times and mobile friendly webpages.

Conclusion

They say a stitch in time saves nine. Stitch the audit in time to save the above nine metrics and to prevent eleventh hour rushes. The bottom line is to have enough time for creating effective holiday messaging and execution. If a well-planned eCommerce campaign brings the site down to its own knees, falling under its own weight of a thousand purchases, that’s like Turkeys voting for Thanksgiving. So once the final site optimization is implemented, load test the site prior to code freezes. The marketing strategy including promotional ads, email campaigns and paid search plans should completely align and resonate with the audit so that you can make the best use of this holiday season.

Adithya Soundararajan

Senior Research Analyst at Aspire Systems
Adithya is a passionate senior research analyst with a first class Masters degree in Business Administration and has avid interest in learning new technologies. Management by education and technology by passion, he holds a steady mix and treads the golden mean.